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How?

How can anyone determine with absolute certainty what is morally right and wrong? If it's all based on personal opinion then what we'd have is chaos because no one's opinion is intrinsically superior to another's. In other word's, everybody is right which also means that everybody is wrong :)

So, how can moral truths be defined with absolute certainty? And such moral truths do certainly exist for mankind doesn't treat acts like ped0philia, the gunning down of innocent children, racial bigotry, sadism, genocide, gang rape and serial murder as just socially unacceptable behavior, like, say, picking your nose at the dinner table. Rather, these cause shock and horror and are treated as a moral abominations - acts of evil.   

On the flip side, love, equality and self-sacrifice are not just treated as socially advantageous, like, say, bringing a girl flowers on a first date, but, instead are treated as things that are truly good.   

Now, irrational beasts don't have **objective** morals. When a lion savagely kills another it doesn't think it's committing murder. When a peregrine falcon or a bald eagle snatches prey away from another it doesn't feel it's stealing. When primates violently force themselves onto females and their young they’re not tried and convicted of rape or ped0philia. Obviously, then, we certainly didn't “inherit” our **objective** moral sense from them.   

**objective** morals do not come from science either because science, by it's very nature, is morally nihilistic. Where, then, do we get our **universal objective morals** from?   

Consider the following:   

(1) If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
(2) Evil exists.
(3) Therefore, objective moral values and duties do exist.
(4) Therefore, God exists.
(5) Therefore, God is the locus of all objective moral values and duties.


In other words, as Dostoevsky once mused, "If there is no God, everything is permitted."  
maxximiliann maxximiliann 36-40, M 6 Responses Apr 13, 2012

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The answer to this is often over thought above thus becomes distorted. Just like if you say a certain word several times in a row it begins to almost sound foreign, and eventually you will temporarily forget what the word even means. (Don't believe me? Try it).
Morality does not exist.
Morality is merely the collective mindstate of society, and it is forever changing.
Hundreds of years ago the things that were considered "Moral" are now crimes, and I'm sure the cycle will not change as we advance further in our level of thought. Paticularily with gay rights and such.
Nothing has absolute certainty so long as it can be interpreted a different way.

I agree with you to the extent that society grooms the "finer points" of morality. The points that are related to social norms and customs.

But who changes society and what it allows and disallows? The collective conscience of the people. Society is not a detached entity from the people within it. The people make the society.

If you claim morality is absolutely non-existent - you may say that without society (which is impossible) - any person, including yourself, would have no hesitation in committing murder or rape? Of course, in this hypothetical scenario, no punishments exist.

Changes in society are made by advancements of all kinds- Be it technological, mental, etc. And they all are empirical based. Subsequent to these advancements and realizations things become obsolete over time which arises other things to substitute their positions. This is proven by a look back in history and a juxtaposition between then and now. People do make the society, but the society as a label is what makes the 'morality'. And I'll say that you must acknowledge just because somebody may be within our society it doesn't mean they agree with any of its rules to begin with, or even consented with any of its moral foundings. Nobody choose weather or not to be born here, so we are sort of forced to live and subconsciously support these claims.

And as far as punishments and murder and those things, I live by one rule which i would believe to be common sense and non-debatable (For the most part).
"Do what makes you happy, and what allows others the same quality of life".
The only thing i would even consider to label as "wrong" is taking a life, because a life is something you can never return with all the effort and money in the world.

I would definitely hesitate to kill somebody without reason because i simply don't want to hurt people. It's not because i choose to obey morality and having that the only reason why i don't stab my neighbors to death.

If anybody thinks there really is a "Right" way to live, an all absolute ethically correct way to go about your days, they are a part of the problem by disregarding the plethora of acceptable ways to live.

In my opinion, of course.
The thing is to realize the state of subjectivity everything is in.

"People do make the society, but the society as a label is what makes the 'morality.'" If society is comprised of a collective of people.. then the people do make the general moral code followed by most. SOCIETY = The aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community.

"I would definitely hesitate to kill somebody without reason because i simply don't want to hurt people." That is a moral principle you have just divulged, whether you like it or not. And it only better proves my point because you are going out of your way to say that it is not society that imposes this belief on you.

This is an example of an innate moral compass. Where does this come from? Not from the law telling you not to stab me multiple times... but rather from a developed sense of conscience. I suspect as a child, before you were fully aware of laws and punishments, you may have hesitated to hurt another in your daycare on purpose.

There are people within a society that disagree/don't understand the general moral principles that exist. There is a moral spectrum to be considered. This is exemplified by gay rights, abortion, age of consent issues, etc etc etc. Things become murky because other factors are always at play. But social norms are not always considered by all to constitute as a matter of morality.

Not quite sure what to say to the first assertion. I feel we both think the same thing but are just asserting it different ways.

Yes, i guess you could say that was an individual 'moral', for the lack of a better word. Although for me it's not to the full extent of the word. I don't believe anything to be right nor wrong. I simply have my preferences and that's all.
There is no way to tell weather or not my preferences were directly influenced by society and its 'moralistic beliefs', but it is definitely not impossible to be otherwise. I'm sure there are some wanderers out there who have chosen their belief systems almost entirely off of their own selves, and some may not prefer to do any harm. Never know, this is where the subjectivity comes in

I would say a 'developed sense of conscious' comes only with the advancement of our species. This, is the moral compass you speak of. If we all suddenly became dumb or were wiped of all accumulated memory I am sure we would resort back to primal instincts and doomed to repeat the process of racial superiority, due to the immature state that our mentalities would be in.

To recap,
I think this Innate moral compass you speak of is just the knowledge level we are at. This steers our direction of mental evolution which in turn determine what this generations morals will be.
Like i said, they are forever changing, just like the knowledge of humans. The only 2 consistent things i can discern.

We are wondering from the main point.

I am arguing that it is from within our nature as humans to possess a guilty conscience and a BASIC set of moral principles. This is intrinsic in our nature, and has advanced as part of our evolution.

You are arguing that it is a product of society and its own advancements (brought about by us as humans) that dictate our learned moral principles. Whether or not we, as individuals, personally agree with these principles - they exist as a result of society and its constraints.

That is what I am gathering from this discussion so far. Correct me if I am mistaken on any points.

At first, it seemed as if we were arguing completely opposite things - but we may be more similar than I first thought. Especially given the truth that society is an aggregate of people. But morals, as you say, only come about with advancements in other aspects of our general lifestyle - correct?

But do you not believe that, even at a primal state, a basic conscience existed in humans to begin with? And this conscience, over time, grew to greater complexity (i.e. being inclusive of: acceptance of others' differences, seeing humans as being equals, etc.). Is it really a "preference," as you worded it, to not murder another?

That is quite a cold idea, isn't it? You PREFER not to murder someone? Is it reduced to preference because this hypothetical murder would pose too much of an inconvenience to you? You couldn't be bothered? You would not gain anything from it? OR: would you avoid killing another (even if a benefit did exist in doing so) because you would feel BADLY after committing such an act? The latter is moral. I don't think society teaches that at all, and my guess is that in a different scenario altogether (e.g. wilderness with no rules), you would still feel guilt in killing someone.

Unless you're a psychopath.

See this is exactly what i said would happen in my original comment- being that things get completely distorted when discussed lol. I'm surprised at how accurate i was in foreseeing that.
Anyhow, I am completely confused so I'll just state my beliefs in regards to yours;

I can see why you thought i believed morals stemmed from a society entirely, but that wasn't right. I agree with your point, and I do acknowledge that everybody has their own individual moralistic beliefs which may be synonymous to preferences.

You were talking about morality in general, being the intrinsic and innate basis to our character, while i was talking about TODAYS morality and the way we have things set up according to it.

I believe in the whole pre-existing conscious in primal humans, and what you said happens. That was what i was actually trying to explain in the whole empirical knowledge and advancements rant.

And to be honest It's not at all because i may or may not feel bad after killing somebody that i say it is a preference. ( I probably would if there was no legitimate reason, but still).
I simply prefer not to kill people. Some prefer otherwise hence their murderous acts.
This goes further into asking: Do you think under any circumstance somebody deserves to die? Hussein? Hitler? Etc. If you do, it may be a preference for you too, being that it is circumstantial. Because if it were a stern moral, you would see murder wrong in all cases.
Trust me it's really not a cold idea haha. I'm not a bad person at all and i don't plan on killing even a fly anytime soon.

Moralistic beliefs are NOT synonymous to preferences whatsoever. Preferences: "I prefer peanut butter to jelly." Morals: "I deeply believe it wrong to steal from poor people." C'mon.

Morals are, in fact, circumstantial. But to really get to the bone of it, the scenario is: the purposeful murder of an innocent person. A person with no morals, and an appetite for killing, would have no problem in chopping one's head off. And what's more, they would NOT feel badly after doing so (psychopath). A person with morals, would not only "NOT PREFER" to chop one's head off but they would dread the thought of it.. and if they were forced to do so, they likely be guilt-ridden. That is the basic situation with no extra complicating factors I am trying to use here.

We are not speaking of Hitler, Stalin, etc etc. If we were, values such as JUSTICE come in to play.

If you were agreeing with my basic argument to begin with.. then your argument was misunderstood or poorly conveyed from the beginning.

@Nothing

Thing is, mankind doesn't treat acts like ped0philia, the gunning down of innocent children, racial bigotry, sadism, genocide, gang rape and serial murder as just socially unacceptable behavior, like, say, picking your nose at the dinner table. Rather, these acts are treated as a moral abominations - acts of evil.

On the flip side, love, equality and self-sacrifice are not just treated as socially advantageous, like, say, bringing a girl flowers on a first date, but, instead are treated as things that are truly good.

Now, beasts don't have **objective** morals. When a lion savagely kills another it doesn't think it's committing murder. When a peregrine falcon or a bald eagle snatches prey away from another it doesn't feel it's stealing. When primates violently force themselves onto females they’re not tried and convicted of rape. Obviously, then, we certainly didn't “inherit” our **objective** moral sense from them.

**Objective** morals do not come from science either because science, by it's very nature, is morally nihilistic. Where, then, do we get our **universal objective morals** from?

Studies suggest a 98.6% similarity between human/chimp DNA. There is still a percentage of difference between us and them. And perhaps an even greater difference that is not yet observable scientifically.

Our universal, objective morals come from environmental conditioning over years and years of time. Morality, although mysterious as it is, has an evolutionary purpose as I will continue to believe. Our capacity as humans to be empathetic and caring for one another is a tool for the preservation of our species. If humans were all rogue beasts, unhindered by guilt, they would go about hurting/killing/causing pain to one another.. and ultimately to the destruction of the human race itself. There is a necessary internal constraint on each of us, as individuals, to prevent harm done to others. This is useful and logical.

From a scientific standpoint, speaking to particular regions of the human brain, I am less qualified to go too far into detail there. However, it has been found that human brains contain things called "mirror neurons" which are somewhat responsible for our capacity for empathy.

Science is a work in progress in explaining our nature, but I am afraid the concept of God is a dead end in itself.

Having said that, there is a useful place for the small portion of humans that do NOT have a conscience. These people are known as psychopaths.

@Nothing

Or, analyzing this from a different vantage point, if the KKK were to attain world domination and eliminated everyone who thought racism was wrong, would that suddenly make racism and bigotry moral?

Cultish followings of such misguided and immoral beliefs are typically headed by psychopathic individuals. This is exemplified by Nazism (Hitler) as well. It takes effective gaslighting and brainwashing to alter the perceptions of a following of people (who would otherwise follow a conscientious life).

I believe this is currently being accomplished by the media in some subtle ways.

Do not neglect to mention that religious teachings are also responsible for similar intolerances and misguided beliefs. E.g. intolerance for homosexuality.

However, just because these followings exist, does not mean that the human conscience and morality is negated altogether. It, in itself does not change, but environmental factors can cause it to be ignored. A sense of right does exist within, and as society advances (as Nothingmattersatall mentioned), so does the human conscience. Slavery was a reality at one time, but was later abolished.

@Zoeb

You say "If humans were all rogue beasts, unhindered by guilt, they would go about hurting/killing/causing pain to one another" as if this wasn't the reality millions are forced to suffer through.

Are you at all familiar with the lives of Danton, Lenin, Than Shwe, Stalin, Mengele, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Ceausescu, Honecker, Castro, Pol Pot, Milosevic, Bonaparte, Mussolini and other sadistic mass murderers?

@Zoeb

So you're answer to my query would beeee? :)

I have had numerous discussions on the nature of psychopathy. You should read through some of them. Only if you are interested, of course. (Groups: 'I am a Psychopath' & 'I am a Functioning Psychopath').

It is suggested that psychopaths are accountable for over 50% of serious crimes throughout the world. Psychopaths themselves are a mere 1-10% of the population. Undoubtedly, many of the names you listed above were psychopathic individuals.

Psychopaths do not possess a conscience.

@Zoeb

And those that weren't psychopaths? Were they rogue beasts instead?

I have good reason to believe that all the people you have listed were psychopaths. Cult leaders, religious fanatics, fascist leaders, cunning politicians.. psychopaths are greatly attracted to these roles.

Non-psychopaths commit crimes as well, of course. Everyone is a product of their environment Max. Whether they are persuaded and groomed into doing terrible things, or there is a struggle with a complexity of emotion that causes them to do/say things that are immoral. Vengeance, justice, anger, fear.. these all come into play.

We are imperfect.

But take away the law, take away the possibility of imprisonment or any other repercussions for one's actions. What stops one regular, empathetic person from killing or hurting another person - even if it provided some benefit or advantage to them? That's the beauty of our nature.

@Zoeb

Dunno. You claim to possess a conscience yet nothing kept you from deriding me.

You seem to be refuting your own position ...

Just another example. Above, I have given a thoughtful reply and you simply say.. well a conscience must not exist because you act like you don't have one.

Ugh. It's a waste of my time.

See what happens when you contradict yourself? heh eh eh :)

16 More Responses

Is morality so much about free will/simple opinion and choice? Or rather, is morality tied down by a constraining conscience that resides within most of us. Morality, and our behavior that springs from it, is intuitive in nature. It is not brought about by logical reasoning or weighing of various options.

We may overlook/ignore what we know to be the "right" thing to do and act in contradiction, but later we feel GUILT - and that is proof of the existence of an inner moral compass.

A bible does not need to teach us what is right and wrong, most humans already have that natural capability.

There are smaller details that we may not be equipped with. Like social norms and practices. The evolution of society grooms us with regard to those finer points, which are arguably tied to morality as a whole, but put in place by society.

The question then becomes, where does our conscience come from? Could it have evolved from the realm of irrational beasts?

For instance, when a lion savagely kills another does it know it's committing murder? When a peregrine falcon or a bald eagle snatches prey away from another it doesn't feel it's stealing, does it? When primates violently force themselves onto females are they objurgated by their troop for committing rape?

As humans, we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to live with more beyond the requirements of survival (we have entertainment, hobbies, choices, etc.). This separates us quite definitively outside of regular nature. I am of the mindset we don't necessarily belong within it anymore. Our basic instincts do still exist, but they take on a more sophisticated form (e.g. not killing for food, but doing well at work to make more money to provide family with necessities and other things).

So with that mindset, I would argue that conscience is somewhat of an evolutionary aspect of humanity. The caveman never felt badly about hunting, like an eagle would not feel badly from stealing prey from another. But today, a growing population of vegans cry at the thought of slaughterhouses and farms. We have this growing conscience about hurting nature and abusing the earth's resources... because WE CAN. It has been some time now that we learned how to make fire, and now we are concerned with a world of money, consumerism, and unnecessary conveniences. So with a world of excess option, there must be some type of constraint to hold us back from doing anything and everything. That is... conscience.

I'm still not clear on your answer to my queries. Do animals have a moral imperative like you and I do?

No, animals do not have a moral imperative.

We do, and I believe it is a product of evolution as we have surpassed the basic survival instinct and have become humans with a complexity of emotion to work with.

Back to your question. People do not DECIDE what is morally right or wrong, it is intrinsic. Our moral compass is guided by a conscience that humans have developed. And while there is a little variety among people, in terms of what they are okay doing and what others are not okay doing (from a moral standpoint), generally most of us are held back from hurting innocent others due to a conscience. What is universal in humanity: a conscience (with the exception of psychopaths).

The Bible does not need to teach us to have a conscience, it is innate in our characters as humans.

Thank you for that clarification. Since animals do not possess a moral imperative (conscience) how exactly did humanity inherit (evolve) that from the realm of irrational beasts? In other words, where did this radically new information come from?

I wouldn't say that all animals are "irrational beasts." It is arguable that they are more rational than we are, even though in a more primitive state. They act based on survival instinct and aren't hindered by a lot of emotional complexity like we are. While emotions and free will are beneficial overall, they can also make for an irrational person (e.g. being "blinded by love").

Where did our conscience and ability to experience a plethora of different emotions come from? Well how did our physical transformation come about in evolution? Over time. As we adapt.

Perhaps it isn't favourable to humanity as a whole if most of us did NOT have consciences. Helping others, not being erratically violent, avoiding causing pain to others/damaging their situation makes for a better "big picture" for humans - don't you think?

However, having said that, there is still a portion of the population that do not have consciences (psychopaths) - and I believe they serve a useful purpose to society as well.

Before I get to your most intriguing remark regarding psychopaths I'm forced to ask, if the overwhelming majority of humanity possess a fully functional conscience that allows them to distinguish between right and wrong, as you assert, why do so many abuse, bully, murder, rape, defraud and otherwise mistreat their fellowman? It would seem that only the opposite should be true, no? The world should be a paradise of peace, love, harmony and pure bliss.

Why isn't this the kind of world we live in?

Just because one HAS a conscience, does not mean that it is the primary guiding light in every single person's life. There is an infinite variety of reasons why people do bad things, and I can't list them all. There are temptations, environmental factors, pressures, hatred, vengeance - and plenty more aspects that play a further role in our emotions and decisions. But a conscience will make one feel guilty and regretful of certain actions that one "knows" to be wrong.

People are imperfect.

There is an impossibly difficult philosophical argument, which will never truly be solved, as to whether humankind is naturally "good" without the teachings, laws, and constraints of society. This idea is pondered in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. If we isolated an individual from society, would he/she regress to savagery - lacking in all his/her learned principles and morals?

I'm of the side, although perhaps too optimistically, that people are generally good. There will always be a moral spectrum, and specific individuals will fall on different places on it. But generally, we are all tied down by a conscience and will usually act accordingly. This is what prevents the greater number of us from wreaking havoc on society - not only because we will be punished if we do, but because ... why would we want to hurt others?

As you’ve correctly surmised, the overwhelming majority of people are born with a conscience that reacts when they do something wrong.

The issue, however, is that, like any precision instrument, our conscience needs to be properly calibrated otherwise, like a compass placed in front of a magnet, it will get us lost. A clear example of this can be seen with child soldiers. These are more violent and vicious than their older counterparts.

“More than 300,000 children—some as young as 7—are fighting as soldiers in 41 countries around the world,” said an Associated Press dispatch. Most are between the ages of 15 and 18. “Besides being used as front-line fighters, children are used to detect land mines and also as spies, porters and sex slaves, according to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.” Drugs are often administered to make children fearless. Those who refuse drugs are killed, said a 14-year-old rebel soldier in Sierra Leone. Regarding his fighting in 1999 when he was 15, a North African youth reported: “They put all the 15- and 16-year-olds in the front line while the army retreated. I was with 40 other kids. I was fighting for 24 hours. When I saw that only three of my friends were alive, I ran back.” The Coalition’s report stated that governments recruit children because of “their very qualities as children—they can be cheap, expendable and easier to condition into fearless killing and unthinking obedience.”

And so we arrive at the crux of our discussion. As we’ve seen whether or not a person has a conscience isn’t really the issue. It’s whether or not a person has a reliable conscience and whether or not he/she obeys it.

This dilemma calls to mind an old Cherokee legend. It goes something like this:

“An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."”

With that in mind, consider what another equally wise and ancient passage tells us.

“This is what Jehovah has said [] “I, Jehovah, am your God [Creator], the One teaching you to benefit [yourself], the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments. Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” - Isaiah 48:17,18

As any loving parent would, our Creator, Jehovah God, is keenly interested in our well-being and, to that end, instructs us on how to maintain and properly use the conscience he created us with.

To close, here’s a remarkable demonstration of this instruction at work as recorded in an international journal:

“In Liberia, Alex served as an altar boy in the Catholic Church. But at the age of 13, he joined a warring faction and became a notorious child soldier. To make himself brave in battle, he turned to witchcraft. Alex saw many of his companions killed, but he survived. In 1997 he met Jehovah’s Witnesses and found that they did not look down on him. Rather, they helped him to learn what the Bible says about violence. Alex left the army. As his faith began to grow, he followed the Bible command: “Let him turn away from what is bad and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”—1 Peter 3:11.

Meanwhile, a former child soldier named Samson came through the town where Alex now lived. He had been a choirboy but in 1993 became a soldier and got involved in drug abuse, spiritism, and immorality. In 1997 he was demobilized. Samson was heading for Monrovia to join a special security force when a friend persuaded him to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and as a result, he developed a Bible-based faith. This gave him the courage to abandon his warlike ways. Both Alex and Samson now live peaceful and moral lives. Could anything but Bible-based faith make changes in lives that had been so brutalized?” - http://bit.ly/18WopZ0

Is it apparent to you now why we all need to read and apply what the Bible teaches? :)

No Sir, I am afraid you are wrong. And the interesting examples you have used only help to further the main point of this experience group.

My curiosity piqued when you began to speak of child soldiers. I have read a few personal accounts/autobiographies from those that were child soldiers - specifically in Sierra Leone like you said. I'm sure you have heard of "A Long Way Gone"?

We have both agreed on the basic truth that most humans are born with a conscience. Sometimes their behaviours reflect their conscience, and sometimes their behaviours contradict it - obviously.

With regard to child soldiers, I think it is important to mention that children are malleable and easily influenced - and this why they were used to such a large extent in being soldiers and committing heinous acts. Due to them being, well "stolen" at such a young age, they were greatly brainwashed into being so well controlled. Does this mean that an innate conscience never existed within themselves to begin with? No. But their perceptions were skewed and they were taught to accomplish terrible things. They were effectively gaslighted. One can take from the example of child soldiers, that environment and external factors were the greatest factors in steering their actions far from what their conscience would've allowed in any other regular circumstance.

It comes down to surroundings, and the people in power, that causes a change in moralistic behaviour. If one switches a negative and controlling environment to one that is positive and encourages moral behaviour - there is most likely going to be a heightened awareness of principles and morality. This is NOT dependent on religious teachings. Perhaps Samson, after being demobilized, was persuaded by a friend to become a part of a loving (though non-religious) family? Although devoid of religious bible teachings, this positive/loving/highly principled environment fostered a more morally aware Samson? He was introduced to a different environment - that was the main factor.

I'm assuming you are a Jehovah's Witness yourself. Perhaps this particular religion can provide some moral foundation for people, but it is not a necessity - in and of itself - to be responsible for all morality. It is simply a religious teaching that dictates how one should live their life.

Like any other "way of life," it has moral and immoral aspects to it. I would argue that excommunication/shunning is an immoral aspect to Jehovah's Witness. How can a religion that has both the immoral and moral within itself (like the Cherokee containing two wolves) be the absolute in providing moral foundations for others? It can't, and it isn't.

Morality comes from within the individual, and from there it is either nourished or decayed by the individual's environment. (And religion may very well be responsible for its DECAY in some circumstances)

Let's examine this further.

To start, on what objective moral basis do you dare judge the moral values of any peoples?

I see you want to examine the topic further, yet you chose not to acknowledge any of the points I brought up in response to your previous argument. You cannot have a good debate and pick and choose what you want to respond to..

I judge the moral values of the religious, just as you have judged the moral values of the non-religious. Quite simply. I'm not sure where to go with your lack of response.. no individual's "moral basis" will be 100% objective because we are all shaped by biases and perspectives. Seeing as I'm a member of this experience, I didn't think I needed to clarify that I am happily non-religious, and also a highly principled person. You have shared a story in this group, obviously, looking for somewhat of a debate.. yet you choose to overlook and not acknowledge any points you don't want to hear and steer the conversation in the direction you would like it to go.

I may dare to judge the morals (or lack thereof) of the religions/non-religious, just as ANY person may dare to do so. Humanity and morality are universal issues that pertain to anyone.

I. But I am addressing your reply. You see, for this to be a valuable dialogue we need to first identify a proper touchstone to use in evaluating what is and is not moral. And opinion just won’t do since everyone’s perspective is as valid as anyone else’s thereby rendering such explorations moot.

If, however, objective moral values and duties do in fact exist then determining good and evil and right from wrong becomes a simple matter of measuring anyone’s actions against that standard.

With this in mind, consider the following:

(1) If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
(2) Evil exists.
(3) Therefore, objective moral values and duties do exist.
(4) Therefore, God exists.
(5) Therefore, God is the locus of all objective moral values and duties.

In other words, as Dostoevsky once mused, "If there is no God, everything is permitted."

Now, if you try and claim morals are valid independently of our apprehension of them, what is their objective foundation? Moreover, if morality is just a human convention, then why should we act morally, especially when it conflicts with self-interest? Or are we in some way held accountable for our moral decisions and actions? More particularly, what is the basis for the value of human beings? If God does not exist, then it is difficult to see any reason to think that human beings are special or that their morality is objectively true. Moreover, why think that we have any moral obligations to do anything? Who or what imposes any moral duties upon us?

Let me emphasize again, the question is not: “Must we believe in God in order to live moral lives?” There is no reason to think that atheists and theists alike may not live what we normally characterize as good and decent lives. Similarly, the question is not: “Can we formulate a system of ethics without reference to God?” If the non-theist grants that human beings do have objective value, then there is no reason to think that he cannot work out a system of ethics with which the theist would also largely agree. Or again, the question is not: “Can we recognize the existence of objective moral values without reference to God?” The theist will typically maintain that a person need not believe in God in order to recognize, say, that we should love our children. Rather, “the central question about moral and ethical principles concerns this ontological foundation. If they are neither derived from God nor anchored in some transcendent ground, are they purely ephemeral?” (Paul Kurtz)

If there is no God, then any ground for regarding the herd morality evolved by humans as objectively true is purely arbitrary. After all, what is so special about human beings? They are just accidental by-products of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time.

Some action, say, inc3st, may not be biologically or socially advantageous and so in the course of human evolution has become taboo; but there is on the atheistic view nothing really wrong about committing inc3st. If “The moral principles that govern our behavior are rooted in habit and custom, feeling and fashion,” (Paul Kurtz) then the non-conformist who chooses to brush-off the herd morality is doing nothing more serious than acting passé.

You have convoluted this discussion to what is barely bearable, and have utilized the asking of questions as a means of backing up your point. You seem to be of the kind of religious person that claims, due to the great number of uncertainties/mysteries of human nature.. "God" must be used as the last resort solution. A fictional, comforting figure to assuage humanity's fear of death and the inexplicable is surely the most rational explanation. A lazy last resort.

You have made tremendous use of others' conclusions and thoughts, but if I wanted to know what Kurtz or Dostoevsky thought, or if I wanted to revisit the overused indirect proof ("God exists, therefore..") ... I would be reading elsewhere. Give me YOUR stance, give me your answers. Do not respond with questions and quotations.

The question we are working with is NOT: what in particular is moral and immoral. But rather: how do humans arrive at what is moral/immoral in the absence of religion/God (and they do). What makes them capable in their nature alone to have an intrinsic moral compass? I have gathered this much from the disorganization that is above.

Morality is not a human convention. We hold ourselves, as people, accountable. we answer to ourselves. As a product of evolution, we have surpassed what is typical in nature. The defining factor in what makes us human is the presence of free will and the presence of a CONSCIENCE. It is the human conscience that imposes moral imperatives on us as people. Extraneous factors may cause our behaviour and actions to stray from what our conscience would otherwise dictate, but the existence of the conscience persists regardless.

Society reflects the aggregate conscience of the people, and over time - as we advance - so does our conscience. This is evolution in progress. For instance, in more primitive times, mankind could not afford to care about the killing of animals. It was too imperative that he hunted to feed himself and his family - it was a necessity, a means for survival. Today, as we have advanced in diet and lifestyle, our conscience can afford to recognize the pain and suffering of animals alongside our own.

What is so special about us humans? Our evolutionary conscience, our ability for freewill and choice. Our complexity of emotion. Yes, perhaps we are accidental by-products of nature that have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless galaxy.. universe.. and we will perish individually and then as a species altogether. That is our cycle:) It doesn't have to be so abysmal and depressing and dark. Miraculousness can exist without God. Our chance at being part of such a cycle is miraculous. Freeing oneself of the duties that should be served to "God," I believe, is the only way to have a fully human experience on this Earth... until we perish that is:)

I want to apologize, I did not intend any disrespect with my reply above. But I fear that some of my comments were, in fact, disrespectful. I hope it doesn't detract from the legitimacy of the conversation.

*Side Note: The above apology may be observed as a conscience in action..

@Zoeb

I. No worries, I've yet to meet a polite, humble atheist. Your vehement reaction is basically par for the course, h e h hehe :)

Although, I must ask, why didn’t your conscience keep you from reacting the way you did? I mean, if all it does is condemn you after you’ve screwed up, what good is it?


II. Your passion notwithstanding, I must say, you've really stepped in it now. You see, you've come out and made an extraordinary positive claim, namely, that God does not exist but did so sans evidence. As I’m sure you’ll agree:

1. Claims made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
2. You claim God absolutely does not exist.
3. You have limited and incomplete knowledge
4. It's possible God exists outside your knowledge.
5. Therefore you can 'believe' God does not exist, but cannot prove it.
6. Therefore your claim can be summarily dismissed for lack of evidence.

Unless, of course, I’m grossly mistaken and you do possess absolute knowledge. Do you? :)

III. I agree. Believing in imaginary people is just silly. Just as silly, in fact, as believing the universe came from nothing, by nothing for nothing.

You don't really believe everything just "poofed" into existence 13.70 billion years ago now, do you?

You cannot disprove something (God), sir, that has no evidence to begin with. We might as well be arguing over the existence of the toothfairy. You are fighting a difficult battle.

You could ask me, or you could ask a scientist to give you evidence that God does not exist, but that is a laughable demand when it is your responsibility in being a defender of religion (unfortunately Jehovah's Witness of all the ones to defend) to provide evidence. Evidence is, of course, impossible on your end. So the best argument you can muster will have to suffice.

The existence of God is not the argument. It is the existence of morality, and from where it derives, that is the centricity of all this talk.

I easily could have listened to my conscience before saying the comments I did, but that would have been a good deal less satisfying now would it:) I would rather speak the truth first, and then subsequently recognize my rudeness. Only in this case.

I. Thing is, fräulein, science can most certainly prove a negative and it has. Aristotelean physics, Alchemy, Neptunism, the geocentric universe, spontaneous generation, Lamarckism, emication, the existence of the planet Vulcan, Lysenkoism, trepanation, Miasma theory of disease, telegony, the expanding earth, the existence of Phlogiston, martian canals, Luminiferous Aether, the Steady State Theory, Cold Fusion, Hollow Earth Theory and Phrenology, to only mention a few, have all been proven false.

Given this great track record of success, why can't science prove that the existence of God is false or impossible? :)

II. RE: The source of morality

Being fully cognizant of what we’re discussing I asked, “if the KKK were to attain world domination and eliminated everyone who thought racism was wrong, would that suddenly make racism and bigotry moral?”

Since you haven’t finished Googling an answer yet, your chiding is very misplaced. I should be tongue-lashing you for this conscienceless “delay of game”, heheheheheh :)

III. I am more than happy to present you with various bodies of evidence which have persuaded millions of reasonable people the world over that the anti-theist world view is delusional.

Before I share it with you though (assuming you’re interested in it, of course) I must ask, do you accept all evidence or just scientific evidence?

IV. You equate truth with disrespect? How novel, heh e hehe :)

I won't be progressing any further until you extrapolate as to why my answers seem "Googled"

You want me to predict by projecting past experience or known data how your answers seem Googled?

Apologies, but I don't follow. Can you clarify?

I come to this debate with a modest, but honest, 21 years of life experience and some post-secondary education I am still in the process of completing. I can only bring what I know and believe to the table, so your accusation that I am Googling some responses to fill my replies.. it is insulting. Especially considering the copy/paste quotes you've used and indirect proofs. You further resort to ad hominem attacks with the questioning of the existence of my conscience? Disgusting.

Your condescension undermines the value of what should be a respectful argument.

Ironic during a debate regarding morality, wouldn't you say.

I want it made quite clear that I am NOT here to debate the existence of God. I will not participate. I know he doesn't exist, and you have faith that he does. That's great, but I see no benefit in that sort of argument.

@Zoeb

Please accept my most heartfelt apologies. I mistook your playful digs at me as a display of how you enjoy communicating with others and was simply responding in kind. Again, I'm sorry I hurt your feelings :(

Can we continue our fascinating dialogue? Something you stated in your latest reply has further kindled my interest in your beliefs.

19 More Responses

@Barry



Here's God's perspective on the matter -



" When I say to the righteous one: “You will positively keep living,” and he himself actually trusts in his own righteousness and does injustice, all his own righteous acts will not be remembered, but for his injustice that he has done—for this he will die.



14 “‘And when I say to the wicked one: “You will positively die,” and he actually turns back from his sin and carries on justice and righteousness, 15 [and] the wicked one returns the very thing pledged, pays back the very things taken by robbery, [and] actually walks in the very statutes of life by not doing injustice, he will positively keep living. He will not die. 16 None of his sins with which he has sinned will be remembered against him. Justice and righteousness are what he has carried on. He will positively keep living.’



17 “And the sons of your people have said, ‘The way of Jehovah is not adjusted right,’ but, as for them, it is their way that is not adjusted right.



18 “When someone righteous turns back from his righteousness and actually does injustice, he must also die for them. 19 And when someone wicked turns back from his wickedness and actually carries on justice and righteousness, it will be on account of them that he himself will keep living." - Ezekiel 33:13-19

Before we can get to an answer we first need to answer another question. Does evil exist? After all, if a person choose to be good can't he also choose to be evil? Both are expressions of Free Will, are they not? :)









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God created all things, nothing good or bad, these things are thr perception of man!

Problem is people make mistakes, are highly emotional, tend to be greedy and selfish and often acts in completely irrational ways. It's no wonder the world is always going from one chaos to the next. What do you think the solution is? :)

Perhaps a solution isn't possible. The story of Noah is always one I believe can be necessary to quell certain evils in the world. Its hard to really say what can be done. However my goal is to survive and to give my decendents the same chance. Fight the good fight, help those who need and strive to earn what you can. Maybe if more people tried that things would be better. What do you think?

You are right they cannot be. Living life the best you can in your own belief is really the only true thing you can do if true is the word. I guess what would really be interesting if a being on another planet ponders the same thing. Ahhhh what a conversation that would be granted communication is possible.

Check out my reply above :)